Young Women Evening in Excellence: One Enchanted Evening
Each year, Evening in Excellence comes along and you’re struggling for a fresh, inspiring, and fun way to honor the young women. Get a jump start on this year’s program by using these great ideas to create a night they’ll always remember.Young Women in Excellence is a great opportunity to celebrate the Personal Progress achievements of the young women in your ward and encourage them to remain strong as they face life's challenges. Here are two theme suggestions (complete with lesson topics, musical numbers, activities, gifts, refreshments, and decoration ideas) from my downloadable idea book, 102 Activities for Youth, that also correlate with the Church's 2009 youth theme: "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).
Theme 1: Light Keepers
- Use lanterns or unlit candles as centerpieces or on display tables.
- Drape white Christmas lights on tables or hang them from the ceiling to create ambiance.
- Make paper lanterns at a mutual activity prior to the event. Hang the lanterns at Young Women in Excellence or display them next to each young woman's Value Project.
- Open and close the evening with "light" hymns (e.g., "The Lord is My Light" or "Teach Me to Walk in the Light").
- Select a few young women to share experiences from the last year as they've worked on their Value Projects. Ask them to specifically speak about how the program has helped their light grow stronger.
- Perform the music and spoken-word program "Light Keepers."*
"Waxing Strong" Demonstration
Have a piece of candlewick and a bowl of hot wax. Ask the girls to think about how a piece of string eventually becomes a strong candle. Then explain that the wick represents each young woman and the wax represents good choices. In order for us to "wax strong" as the scriptures encourage us, we should try to progress spiritually every day by making good choices. Illustrate this principle by dipping the wick into the wax again and again. When the string is covered with enough wax and has hardened slightly, light the candle. Simple steps, taken little by little, day by day, make us strong. And in the end, we can let our lights shine.
Serve these delicious (and easy-to-make) "Balls of Light" for dessert.
Cut off the top two inches of an orange (stem end). Scoop out the pulp. Spoon orange or lemon sherbet into the hollow oranges. Place on a tray with a sign that says "Balls of Light." (If the oranges won't "stand up," simply slice a small piece of the skin off the bottom. Be sure to not cut through to the sherbet.)
Give each young woman a candle or lantern as a reminder to be a light for those around her.
Theme 2: Lighthouses in the Night
- Drape fishing nets over tables and display seashells, seagrass, wooden boats, buoys, and other nautical gear.
- Use lighthouses for centerpieces. (If you don't have lighthouses, or can't find any, simply glue terra-cotta pots together and paint them to make your own.)
- Cover tables with white butcher paper and stamp with rubber lighthouse stamps (found online or in craft stores). Or, prior to your event, give each young woman a pre-cut sheet of butcher paper and ask her to draw a lighthouse scene with markers or paint. Use the painted scenes as backdrops and table coverings.
- Ask a leader to speak about being a lighthouse in the night and how the Personal Progress program helps young women become like lighthouses. Then ask a few young women to share their Value Projects and their testimonies of how Personal Progress has helped them become like a lighthouse.
- Have the young women perform the song "Lighthouses in the Night."*
Fill a jar with 680 jelly beans and place it on a table by the entrance to your event. Make a sign that says: "The jelly beans in this jar represent the number of lighthouses still remaining in the United States. How many lighthouses do you think there are?" Allow the young women and their parents to make guesses throughout the evening. At the end of the night, whoever guessed closest gets to take the jar of jelly beans home.
*Free script and rehearsal book for "Light Keepers" and sheet music for "Lighthouses in the Night" available on jennyphillips.com.
Jenny Phillips is a singer/songwriter, recording artist, and author. Music from her twelve albums has been translated into fifteen languages. Each year Jenny releases a CD to support the youth theme, with her 2009 CD entitled Light Keepers: Be Thou an Example. Jenny lives in Utah with her husband and three children. More information and free downloads, including 102 Activities for Youth, can be found on her website, jennyphillips.com.